Medical Minute 3-30: Three-D Surgery

By: Vanessa Welch Email
By: Vanessa Welch Email

Even when they can't get to the water, David Kuncas and his son still make time to practice the fundamentals of fishing. David had to put his hobby on hiatus after being hit with constant back pain, sleep apnea and carpal tunnel. His weight fluctuating 60 pounds!

"I was exhausted. I had no energy. Everything was just falling apart in my life," said David Kuncas.

A doctor diagnosed him with a rare disease known as acromegaly. It's the same one that caused wrestling star Andre the Giant to grow.
Doctors found 16-times the normal amount of growth hormone in David's body-- caused by a pea-sized tumor in his pituitary gland.

"Tiny little thing was killing me," he said.

Neurosurgeons at the University of Pennsylvania were able to help David by using a new procedure: Three-dimensional, endoscopic brain surgery.

"The 3-D helps me to be safer with resection around critical structures," said John Y.K. Lee, M.D., Neurosurgeon at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital.

Using the same technology that helped Avatars jump through the screen at the movies, surgeons inserted a three-D endoscope through a patient's nose. Then, when they put on polarized glasses, they see a three-D view of the brain.

"We don't have monsters jumping out at us during surgery, but it is a very similar technology."

Surgeons were able to remove the tumor without damaging the brain or the optic nerves. Now, Dave Kuncas is getting better every day and looking forward to a little spring fishing.

"I'm going to have this boat, and I'm going to be taking this little guy out."

Proving three-D has a place outside of the movies.

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